Winter is upon us! Chilly days, gray skies, dry skin, and being cooped up indoors. There are more than a few reasons that winter can be a tough time for some individuals. However, there are other outlooks on this season that spin it in a more positive light.
Ayurveda, for example, encourages us to live seasonally and the season of winter is a time for inviting warmth into your mind, body, and relationships. It’s a time to avoid rushing and instead, to make a concerted effort to embrace a slower, more relaxed pace through the winter months.
Then there is hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), which is a Danish concept that swept the world a few years back prompting lots of discussions, books, and Pinterest boards dedicated to this way of living. While the hype on hygge may have slowed down, it should never go out of style as it can be an amazing form of self-care during the winter months.
So what is it? Well, Hygge roughly translates to a feeling of coziness, comfort, relaxation, and just general well-being.
So let’s set the hygge scene:
- a crackling fire (or at least a toasty but cozy temperature indoors)
- warm, fuzzy knit socks
- furry blankets
- a hot mug of tea or cocoa
- friends and family to spend time with
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Essentially, hygge is a mindset that encourages us to embrace the cold winter months and celebrate them through restorative time spent indoors connecting with loved ones.
So what does hygge have to do with my health?
Well, Denmark is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, despite its frigid winters that bring short & dark days. The United States on the other hand is ranked 13th for happiness.
Happiness has a huge effect on your health & well-being. It can enhance your immune system (something we can all use in general but especially this time of the year), it can help lower cortisol levels, improve sleep, the list goes on.
So now that we know we want to embrace hygge, let’s discuss how we can!
1. Cultivate Coziness
When hygge grew in popularity worldwide it became very trendy and a major chance for companies to sell sell sell. But hygge is about cultivating a state of mind & a lifestyle, not about buying products. Look around and use what you already have to create a cozy atmosphere. Think candles, fuzzy blankets, layers of warmth, yummy scents, and if you have a working fireplace then go for it. If not, you can get a portable electric fireplace or for free you can cast lovely youtube videos of crackling fireplaces to your tv to give you that ambiance.
2. Spend quality time with loved ones
Think board game night, cozy bedtime stories read aloud or cooking a new recipe together. You could even spend a night with family going through old family photos, or making DIY holiday decor. Hygge says that the cold winter months bring us together indoors for more quality time, so savor this time and find ways to be present with your friends and family without the need for screens and electronics. You’d be surprised how cozy and content you will feel.
3. Savor even the smallest and simplest things
At its essence, hygge is really a mindfulness practice. Focus on gratitude for the small things; the feel of a hot foamy latte on your lips, the warmth of the crackling fire on a cold day, the smell of cookies baking, the beauty of a fresh, untouched snowfall. Hygge is all about taking the time to indulge in and appreciate simple pleasures.
So start planning how you can embrace hygge this winter and incorporate it into your lifestyle and routines. Your mind, body, and spirit will reap the benefits of this cozy and contented practice.